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  1. #1
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    Did McCain lift "cross in the sand" story from Solzhenitsyn?

    The Gulag Archipelago (Russian: Архипелаг ГУЛАГ) is a book by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn based on the Soviet forced labor and concentration camp system. The three-volume book is a massive narrative relying on eyewitness testimony and primary research material, as well as the author's own experiences as a prisoner in a Gulag labor camp. Written between 1958 and 1968 (dates given at the end of the book) it was published in the West in 1973, thereafter circulating in samizdat (underground publication) form in the Soviet Union until its official publication in 1989.
    wikipedia


    1973 was the same year McCain returned to America from Vietnam, and in that same year he wrote this very thorough account of his experience which makes no mention of any cross in the sand story. McCain himself has written about The Gulag Archipelago, saying that Solzhenitsyn "was a writer with unusual gifts, utterly devoted to his art, brilliant and exacting, producing work that would stun not just literary worlds but the entire Cold War political world".


    The following passage is from the American priest Fr. Luke Veronis's sermon "The Sign of the Cross", and was adapted from Solzhenitsyn's writings:

    Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the Russian author who spent many years in the gulag of Siberia, bears witness to the power of the cross. After long suffering in the work camp of Siberia, he fell into despair. Like other prisoners, he had worked in the fields day after day, in rain and sun, during summer and winter. His days were filled with backbreaking labor and slow starvation. On a particular day, the hopelessness of his situation became too much. He saw no reason to continue living, to continue fighting the system. He thought that the rest of his life was meaningless since he would most likely die in this Siberian prison. His life made no difference in the world. So he gave up.

    Laying his shovel on the ground, he slowly walked to a crude work-site bench and sat down. He knew that at any moment a guard would order him to stand up, and when he failed to respond, the guard would beat him to death, probably with his own shovel. He had seen it happen to many other prisoners.

    As he waited, head down, he felt a presence. Slowly, he lifted his eyes and saw a skinny, old prisoner squat down next to him. The man said nothing. Instead, he drew a stick through the ground at Solzhenitsyn's feet, tracing the sign of the Cross. The man then got back up and returned to his work.

    As Solzhenitsyn stared at the sign of the Cross, his entire perspective changed. He knew that he was only one man against the all-powerful Soviet empire. Yet in that moment, he knew that there was something greater than the evil that he saw in the prison, something greater than the Soviet Union. He knew that the hope of all mankind was represented in that simple Cross. And through the power of the Cross, anything was possible.


    Solzhenitsyn slowly got up, picked up his shovel, and went back to work. Nothing outward had changed, but inside, he received hope.

    Years later, Solzhenitsyn's writings enlightened the entire world, telling us not only about the horrors of the Soviet prisons, but also witnessing to the power of God and the hope of the Cross.


    It sure would be an extraordinary coincidence if, years later, John McCain just happened to have the exact same experience as a prisoner that Alexander Solzhenitsyn, whose life and work made a powerful enough impression on McCain for him to praise it highly, had had in the Gulag.
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  2. #2
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    John McCain accused of plagiarising Wikipedia for speeches
    Senator John McCain's integrity has been called into question after speeches he made on the campaign trail appeared to contain plagiarised material including some from Wikipedia.
    -----

    John McCain accused of plagiarising Wikipedia for speeches
    John McCain's recent speech on Georgia was found to bear strong similarities to the country's entry on Wikipedia Photo: REUTERS

    The veracity of a story often told by the Republican presidential candidate about a communist North Vietnamese prison guard drawing a cross in the sand was queried after he repeated the story during a widely televised forum on faith over the weekend.

    It prompted claims by bloggers that he had not only changed the story over the years, but had allegedly made it up or plagiarized a similar story told by the late Soviet dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

    Meanwhile the originality of a speech he made about Georgia has also been placed in doubt after it was found to bear strong similarities to the country's entry on Wikipedia, the online encyclopaedia compiled by the public.

    Congressional Quarterly found that two passages from an Aug 11 speech were almost identical to Wikipedia, while a third bore striking resemblances. Wikipedia is freely available to everyone, but its terms of use require attribution.

    More serious is the claim that Mr McCain has exaggerated or concocted the prison story, which he periodically uses in his stump speeches and which first appeared in his 1999 memoir Faith of My Fathers, which focused on his five and a half years in a North Vietnamese prison.

    In the book Mr McCain told how one Christmas a Vietnamese guard "rather nonchalantly used his sandaled foot to draw a cross in the dirt" in his cell. The two of them stood for a minute or two in silent contemplation.

    Bloggers on the liberal Daily Kos website have pointed out that the former naval pilot did not mention this story in a 12,000 word article on his imprisonment written soon after his release in 1973. The story then started appearing in his speeches during his unsuccessful 2000 bid for the Republican nomination.

    Similarities were pointed out with a tale in Solzhenitsyn's bestselling The Gulag Archipelago, in which a fellow prisoner - not a guard - silently drew a cross in the dirt with a stick. Mr McCain has written about his admiration for the late Russian writer.

    "I do question if John McCain has, in a mix up of perception or clarity, claimed this story as his own," wrote one blogger. Another claimed that "maybe it is all just a made up story".

    The McCain campaign did not immediately comment yesterday on the allegations.
    telegraph.co.uk

    It should also be noted that McCain himself has told various versions of the story, one featuring the guard drawing the cross with his sandal, another (featured in his campaign commercials last winter) featuring the guard drawing the cross with a stick, as in Solzhenitsyn's account.
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  3. #3
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    Well unfortunately the problem here is not McCain, but the speechwriters. None of these guys: McCain, Bush, Obama, JFK, etc, etc etc.. write their own speeches.. and in todays day and age, with the exception of reading them over prior to the event (if there is no teleprompter), most of them don't even know what is in them.

    I wouldn't be surprised if it was lifted from somewhere else.. not one bit.

    And that goes for all politicians, not just him.
    oh my god! did you hear? Alex Rodriguez left a floater and didn't do a double flush!!! someone alert the media this must be news!

  4. #4
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    No, this is a story McCain has told multiple times, including using it in at least one campaign commercial.

    But now, it appears that it never even happened to Sozhenitsyn, according to one of his biographers. In fact, it was an urban legend apparently created by the religious right and possibly poplularized in 1983 by right wing nutjob Chuck Colson or even earlier by Jesse Helms. The story just keeps getting stranger...
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  5. #5
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    Nothing a candidate says is unplanned (except the Bushisms of the world).

    Debates they typically know the questions and speeches are well written before the event.

    I know he has used it multiple times.. but in regards to pulling it from a book or lifting it from Wiki.. that likely falls on his speech writers. It doesn't mean he's in good with me..

    if he spoke the words knowing they never actually happened to him, he's a liar and his moral compass is way off to use made up stories to make his POW status seem more powerful than it already is.

    But the actual act of plagerism, would be on his speech writers and fact checkers.
    oh my god! did you hear? Alex Rodriguez left a floater and didn't do a double flush!!! someone alert the media this must be news!

  6. #6
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    Well, all I was trying to say by that was that even if his speechwriters had written it, it's something he'd definitely have to have approved of - especially if it has been told multiple times (but really, for such a personal experience, even if it was only told once).

    But also, he has told the story in at least one book, and that's something that cannot be attributed to speechwriters.
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  7. #7
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    perhaps.. either way.. I'm less concerned with the plagerism and more concerned that he flat out lied about something that happened in his life (if it turns out he did), in an effort to make something like POW status seem even more important.

    I wonder if the prison guard was under sniper fire when it happened.
    oh my god! did you hear? Alex Rodriguez left a floater and didn't do a double flush!!! someone alert the media this must be news!

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by sboyajian View Post
    an effort to make something like POW status seem even more important
    That's the part I really don't get about it. As if the true story isn't powerful enough in itself and it really needs to be embellished with a religious anecdote. McCain has said repeatedly that he is "reluctant" to use his POW experience as a campaign device. This suggests just exactly the opposite; that he will attempt to connect any possible aspect of his campaign back to that story in order to repeat it as many times as possible.
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